Many Atlantic City-area parents are unaware of the harsh consequences teenagers and children can face when accused of crimes. When a juvenile is charged with a crime in New Jersey, the record that is created may follow the youth around like a dark cloud well into adulthood. Furthermore, when juveniles are convicted of crimes, they may be sentenced to state juvenile jails that have been criticized for harming, rather than helping, troubled youths.

The juvenile jail system in New Jersey has recently been criticized for engaging in the very controversial disciplinary practice of solitary confinement. The solitary confinement of juveniles is widely recognized across the globe as a form of torture, but New Jersey law allows children in state custody to be placed in solitary confinement for as many as five consecutive days.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey and eight other advocacy groups recently submitted a petition to New Jersey’s Juvenile Justice Commission demanding that the state stop sending children and teens into solitary confinement.

The petition specifically calls out “the box” at the New Jersey Training School for Boys. “The box” is a 7-by-7-foot room with no windows that is used to house young men and boys in solitary confinement for days. The ACLU has argued that even trivial misbehaviors – such as swearing – can result in a trip to “the box.

The New Jersey Training School for Boys houses about 300 males between the ages of 12 and 23, with the majority between the ages of 16 and 18.

Many states do already ban juvenile solitary confinement, and as we have mentioned, here in New Jersey the law limits such solitary confinement sentences to five days. However, back in 2009 a lawsuit was filed that accused the state of holding one young man in solitary confinement for 41 days.

Time will tell whether New Jersey will join the nationwide movement to end the traumatizing practice of solitary confinement for those convicted of juvenile crimes.

Source: NJ.com, “ACLU calls for ending solitary confinement in NJ Training School for Boys, other juveniles,” Lloyd Nelson, Aug. 2, 2013